RAGBRAI XLIX registration is now open!

Getting miles in

Every year I struggle with getting enough miles in. I get up about 4:30 and go to the gym during the week. Then work until 4:30 at the job. By the time I get home and make even a small supper, I am too tired to go for a ride. I have tried to ride right after work and then make supper but that gets late since I go to bed at 9. Weekends are my days to ride. Of course I fit it in with laundry, and other household chores. :(

Last week I rode my bike to work which is about 7 miles round trip. At least I am getting some seat time in! So 2 questions. How do other people with a schedule like mine get miles in? And is 7 miles a day considered junk miles that won’t help?

And yes, this is not my first rodeo. This will be my 18th RAGBRAI and last year I did make it on 350 training miles.

Sheesh, I am really whiney today! Sorry.

126 Replies

KenH, May 24, 2016 at 9:11 pm

Here’s how my training is going compared to coach Ertl’s plan in yellow and to previous years. The last week of training in each case is RAGBRAI itself. I did not train consciously for the three days we did in 2012, but my cumulative mileage by the start was probably comparable to the other years’.


Sandaltan ., May 24, 2016 at 10:43 pm

I had a pork sandwich, two Guinness pints and rode 36 miles Sunday. I am ready today.



hnschipper, May 25, 2016 at 9:33 am

I don’t ride much during the week. When I do, it’s usually not until May/June/July when the days are longer and there is more sunlight. The large bulk of my mileage is on the weekends. I try to get long rides in on both Saturday and Sunday, but it’s not always possible with other things going on in my life. I’m at 494 miles right now. A few years ago, I had 50 total miles in prior to RAGBRAI. It hurt a little more that year than other years. :)


Van, May 25, 2016 at 5:33 pm

It doesn’t sound so much like you’re concerned about the miles more than you are the saddle time. Find yourself an old drummers stool. Remove your seat post and seat from your bike. Mount the post and seat to the newly acquired stool and take it to the office. Remove current office chair and replace with new stool/bike saddle combo. That’ll increase the saddle time. :-) You can also take said stool to events, restaurants, bars, etc… and gain valuable saddle time while training for all the other aspects of RAGBRAI as mentioned above.

Good luck. Apparently, “RAGBRAI don’t care!”


powellpd, May 27, 2016 at 8:24 am

This is my first RAGBRAI so I guess I’m over compensating on getting miles in because I have no idea of what to expect. I have been biking for 8 months after having not ridden in 50 years!! I have 5 miles to go to be at the 2,000 miles mark since Jan. 1st. I hired a biking coach and worked with her for once a week for 4 months to experience climbing hills and riding long rollers. I also have been riding with two biking clubs. I started going on 50 mile rides once a week just to get my body used to being on the bike for hours. I ride five days a week. Being retired has helped since my schedule is my own. I do believe, even with of all my preparation, being on the road with a hilly experience and 7 consecutive days will definitely be a challenge. I plan on taking my time, 10-14 mph, stopping often, and enjoying everything the RAGBRAI has to offer. Does anyone have additional suggestions for me that would help prepare me?


jwsknk, May 27, 2016 at 8:59 am

sleep on the floor at home or in your backyard. Stand outside your bathroom for 10-15 minutes every morning before going in. Eat lots of pork chops, brat & burgers. And don’t forget the pie. Pack 2 bags and carry them down to the corner every morning and night. Then ask yourself if you really need to pack all that for a week in Iowa.


BillSpriggs, May 27, 2016 at 9:39 am

powellpd, Your way ahead of the curve. I crossed 1245 miles this morning, I typically get 1,800 miles between March 1st and the middle of July. Your going to find that you average more than 10 to 14 mph. The mistake most first timers make is that they ride to fast. Enjoy the ride.


ppayne1959, May 27, 2016 at 9:55 am


Priceless. That is pure RAGBRAI training. Bladder patience is an undervalued skill.


RoyBoy, May 27, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Pamela, your mileage is great, keep it up but don’t over train. Make sure you get acclimated to riding in the heat and learn to keep hydrated.
While Iowa does not have mountains, the hills can be steady grade, nap of the earth and everything in between. Steady grade is easy once you find the right gear to climb. Nap of the earth can be frustrating because once you find the right gear the grade of the hill changes and you are no longer in the right gear. So if there are hills near where you live then include them in your training as much as you can. And if it is windy, ride any way because there will be wind in Iowa. Good luck.

PS – I’m jealous of your mileage, I’ve only managed to get in 1600 since Jan. 1st. Not retired yet, but if I were, I’d ride everyday. Oh wait, I do that already.


BIANCHI-BRETT, May 27, 2016 at 3:36 pm

Moving in on 800 miles. Shooting for a little over 2000 by RAGBRAI. Not gonna race, just don’t want the hills to interfere with my “fun” factor!


KenH, May 30, 2016 at 11:46 am

I’m at 760 now and should top 1000 by RAGBRAI so I think I am good. If you have 2000, ride five days a week, have done hill training, and have used a personal coach then unless you slack off at this point, yes, I’d say you are being a bit obsessive if you worry you haven’t trained enough! If you want to do more then just keep on pace, ride in the heat, ride in the wind, ride in the rain, ride on days when you wake up too sore and tired to ride another mile, find a large (1000+ riders) ride or two to ride in. Do all that and you will be in the running for best prepared RAGBRAI rider EVER!! If all you do from here on out is keep on pace you will do fine. People who’ve managed only a quarter of your training can complete a RAGBRAI at 10-12 mph. I’ve heard that people with only 30 miles have managed to complete it but that, obviously, is no one’s formula for success. You are way beyond completing it, you are well into going to have a grand time territory.

Just don’t slack off!


Michrider !!!, May 30, 2016 at 1:35 pm

Don’t forget the pie and beer! No point in riding all those miles without a beer or three and a slab of pie!!!


Sexton, May 30, 2016 at 4:47 pm

Mowing grass at home today, a guy went by on a bike, he was probably doing close to 20mph, steering with one hand and holding a piece of pie in the other. There WAS a bottle of something in the bottle cage. I felt like Luke Skywalker watching Yoda raising the X-wing out of the swamp.


Juan Medium Moose, June 2, 2016 at 3:22 pm


Last week I rode my bike to work which is about 7 miles round trip. At least I am getting some seat time in! So 2 questions. How do other people with a schedule like mine get miles in? And is 7 miles a day considered junk miles that won’t help?

  • I don’t consider 7 miles “junk miles”. Until a couple of years ago my bike commute was 9 miles and I was really happy to get that extra seat-time in twice each day.
  • I’ve been fortunate over the past few years that I’ve had a bit of extra free time to spend on riding. I’m not sure how that will change now that my kids are graduating and returning home. Erp!

I did my first RAGBRAI on a mountain bike with only 500mi worth of saddle time under my dainty behind. So don’t fret. You (and your body) know what you’re up against.

@powellpd: A friend of mine joined me last year. It was his first RAGBRAI and my second. The first couple of days, he had a miserable time, but then he “got it”. He said it was a “zen thing”. Once he understood the rhythm of RAGBRAI, the fun in the towns, how to talk to people at the farms along the way, then the ride became easy and fun.

Some of the towns we’ll pass through have a population in the very low hundreds, and all of a sudden 15 thousand people are coming to visit. That’s an aspect of RAGBRAI that’s really worth consideration.

Sit back, relax, and just enjoy the ride.


Juan Medium Moose, June 2, 2016 at 3:32 pm

@amanda: Sorry, I misread the section I quoted. It seems that your one-way to work is about 3.5 miles. I have a local friend who is a long-time RAGBRAIer, and he has a similar problem. What he does is find a longer route home, so that he can pad his 4-ish miles out to 10 or 12.

Much of the time getting out for a ride is spent getting into the bike clothes, making sure the bike is ready, making sure you are ready, and then going back for that one thing you forgot (again!). That’s overhead. The more time you’re actually out riding, the less expensive the overhead.

Some days (about once a week), my friend turns his commute into a longer ride. He heads out to a river town about 25 miles away, and then back again. I usually have to do that kind of thing on weekends, as you do, but perhaps you can fit it in somehow.

Best of luck. Enjoy the ride.


Viewing 15 replies - 16 through 30 (of 126 total)

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